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Gaudy Night

(Lord Peter Wimsey #10)

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  27,793 ratings  ·  2,133 reviews
The dons of Harriet Vane's alma mater, the all-female Shrewsbury College, Oxford, have invited her back to attend the annual Gaudy celebrations. However, the mood turns sour when someone begins a series of malicious acts including poison-pen messages, obscene graffiti and wanton vandalism. Harriet asks her old friend Wimsey to investigate. ...more
Paperback, 501 pages
Published March 16th 1995 by HarperTorch (first published 1935)
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robyn I don't know if I WOULD read this one first. It's my favorite, but it's very dense, and it's the wind-up of the main character's relationship with som…moreI don't know if I WOULD read this one first. It's my favorite, but it's very dense, and it's the wind-up of the main character's relationship with someone he met a few books back.

If you want to try Sayers on for size, you might try an earlier one like Murder Must Advertise or The Nine Tailors, both of which are excellent.

It's not that you'd regret reading Gaudy Night, it's the first one I ever read as well, and I went on to read everything in the series. But I had watched the Mystery! adaption, so I was familiar with the characters' interactions prior to that particular story.(less)
Rachel Burton I hope you're still on Goodreads because I wanted to recommend Not Far From Brideshead by Daisy Dunn. It's nonfiction but a true love letter to Oxford…moreI hope you're still on Goodreads because I wanted to recommend Not Far From Brideshead by Daisy Dunn. It's nonfiction but a true love letter to Oxford. If you wanted to read a love story set in Oxford. Also recommend Brideshead Revisited of course and, a more modern love story, My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan is good too. (less)

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Meredith Holley
A couple of years ago I thought (as a gesture to God saying something like, “Hey, we don’t disagree about everything and anyway what do I know about life?”) that I would start going to a certain church where the pastor was an ex-football star. When I say it now it doesn’t sound like a very good idea, but I did a lot of things at that time that sound stupid now. Sometimes it’s better to go with what you know, even if it’s very little. I say all of this because the ultimate falling-out I had with ...more
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Book Review
4 of 5 stars to Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers, a strong and talented writer of detective mysteries in their Golden Age of publication. This was truly an excellent book. Upon finishing my third year at college, I'd taken all the required courses and a variety of electives to complete my double majors. My advisors and professors, knowing I had an affinity for reading and writing mystery stories, encouraged me to do an independent study on this era of literature; but they
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2018-completed
Published in 1936, this 12th novel in the Lord Peter Wimsey Series is a big story. Dorothy L. Sayers created an entire women’s college (called Shrewsbury) in the large complex known as Oxford University. It is near an associate college called Queen’s and also near Balliol College, which is where Lord Peter Wimsey attended his university years. With Oxford University composed of 38 colleges and 6 Permanent Private Halls, it is not difficult to imagine Ms Sayers’ invention taking its place easily ...more
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I hesitate to call this ‘a Lord Peter book.’ Peter is here, certainly, though in lesser proportion than you might expect, considering he changes in quiet but extraordinary ways. But this book is rightly and greatly Harriet Vane’s, as she returns to the Oxford college of her education to do some academic work, write her next novel, and investigate some nasty disturbances around the college.

Oh. For Oxford alone, which I love, I could love this book. Luckily, however, there are any number of other
Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
This book wasn't what I expected, but it is none the worse for that!

For one thing, this isn't a (view spoiler) What this is is a complicated study of relationships in the almost cloistered world of female academia at Oxford in the 1930s. There is a vicious Poison Pen on the loose - who could it be?

This is a world that Sayers knew well. She was one of the first women to ever receive a degree from Oxford and her knowledge of the culture there shines through in eve
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This year I finally decided to read all of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels. I have read the first few many times, but, for whatever reason, I never continued the series. I have always heard that “Gaudy Night” was her best novel and so I was really intrigued to read this book and was interested to see how the character of Harriet Vane would develop. Indeed, Harriet is the central character in this novel, which sees her returning to Oxford, to attend the Shrewsbury Gaudy, after being invited by a fri ...more
Aug 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
What is the deal with lady detective fiction writers? Why create a brilliant, memorable central female protagonist, totally capable of bringing teh awesome, only to undermine her by having her mope around after some overbred aristocratic prat? Case in point: that whole Havers-Linley dynamic would be infinitely healthier had detective Havers given pompous-assed golden boy Linley a good kick in the yarbles the very first time he tried to pull the whole tired aristo-boy superiority trick to put her ...more
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
3.5 stars for Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers.

There was much to like about this book. Sayers characterisation was, as always, quite superb. She lays a meandering trail of red herrings which she mainly disproves, then brings back into the realm of possibility. I learnt a lot about Oxford life - there is really nothing with which to compare it in NZ, and what little I knew of it previously came from Morse.

But this seemed to be an exceedingly long book. Not that it was boring, because it most cert
Ana Lopes Miura
Oct 09, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
Oh, my GOD, Dorothy L. Sayers is quite the snob! 2011 has been Mystery Year, it being when I started officially working as an attorney and having to read just to be entertained and this piece of crap made me want to swear off British whodunits forever. Luckily, Dame Agatha and Ngaio Marsh still deliver.

The truth is, I like my mysteries to be about murders and this fricking bore was a crappy ¨who sent those ghastly, tastleless anonymous letters¨ affair. No murders about, and by page 20 I was rea
Cindy Rollins
This review is for the Ian Carmichael audio version which is excellent. I am also reading it at a seperate time in print for our podcast The Literary Life Podcast. https://www.theliterary.life

This is a delightful reading of a thoughtful, masterful book. Perhaps the best Lord Peter Wimsey novel of Dorothy L Sayers, although from here on out they are all wonderful, even the short stories.
Gaudy Night is easily my favorite of Dorothy L. Sayers's beloved series of Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. It's one of the last in the series and thus hard to talk about without spoiling earlier books, as it deals with the resolution of the relationship between Lord Peter and Harriet Vane, the mystery writer first introduced in Strong Poison and seen again in Have His Carcase. (If you've read no Sayers, please read at least those two books before reading Gaudy Night, as otherwise you'll be missing ...more
Wanda Pedersen
Halloween Bingo 2022

That was delightful, reminding me vividly of my own university experience. I would gladly have devoted myself to the life of the mind had I thought that I could have made a living out of it. I love research, I enjoy writing, I'm comfortable teaching. It could have been a good life. I was saved from it by my own ignorance of how to get my foot in the door. Now I know how many scholars are kept dangling around campuses by temporary contracts and vague promises, while earnin
Nandakishore Mridula
Lord Peter Wimsey is not the quintessential sleuth. He has a beginning, middle and presumably an end – by which I mean he develops as a character throughout the novels, unlike Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot who resolutely stay as their eccentric selves from their first story to the last. Of course, there is a chronological progression of events; and Poirot actually dies; however as characters they are static. In contrast, we see Wimsey age and mature from a frivolous youth to an idiosyncrati ...more
Sep 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As I've said numerous times before, I love Lord Peter Wimsey. He's funny, a brilliant detective, and he peppers his speech with Shakespearan quotations the way I pepper mine with Simpsons quotes. He can always amuse and amaze me, but up until this point, that was extent of my fascination. Before I read Gaudy Night, I had always thought of Lord Peter mainly as an amusing, almost caricature detective. I had thought of him, simply, as a character. After Gaudy Night, however, I can't think of him th ...more
Sarah Funke Donovan
Apr 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
Are you in love with dashing, fastidious, brilliant, Bach-performing, manuscript-collecting, sonnet-writing, puzzle-solving, Dickens-quoting, cricket-playing, fabulously wealthy, well-traveled, aristocratic detectives? Then this is the book for you...

Although this is really the third book in the Harriet Vane/Lord Peter Wimsey series (after Strong Poison and Have His Carcase), it is my favorite. Anyone who has been to Oxford will appreciate the detailed descriptions. Anyone who has ever been a wo
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where I got the book: my bookshelf. This is a 1940 Gollancz edition I picked up somewhere and I absolutely love it because no matter where you are in the story, the book lays flat and keeps its place. I get so impatient with books that won't stay open.

The story: five years after being erroneously accused--and then, thanks to Lord Peter Wimsey, acquitted--of murdering her lover, Harriet Vane is getting on with her life as a writer and puzzling over what she's going to do about Lord Peter: push hi
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a mystery and they are trying to find... a vandalist. I mean sure, wayyy down the line of this book (300ish pages in of my edition, which is 550ish pages) there is an attempted murder. But for 300 pages the worst thing that happened was vandalism and some threats here and there. I didn't feel the pressing of the high stakes at all. Threats are something to take seriously, but when there was this many of them and no follow up action, I felt like this book lacked urgency. Which made it qui ...more
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over a year ago now, Lord Peter pretty much saved my life. I was hysterical and still half under anaesthesia; the nurses were unsympathetic; I have an anxiety disorder as it is, let alone when I'm in a great deal of pain with insufficient morphine. My blood oxygen levels were catastrophic, even with pure oxygen. My mother forced her way onto the ward and held my hand. When they made her go, my blood oxygenation was up a little, but not much; she didn't let them send her away until she'd put her ...more
Jason Koivu
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Sayers writes herself into her series and then takes us on a trip to her alma mater. Gaudy Night is a slow and easy look at university life at an all-girls college in 1930s Oxford. Not your typical whodunnit, this is an enjoyable sojourn into academia that takes its time and lets the story and characters breathe.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I have read this book so many times I've lost count. There are actually four books in this series, of which I love three ("Strong Poison", "Gaudy Night", and "Busman's Honeymoon"). the other one, the second book in the series, "Have His Carcase" is only meh. Anyway, the mysteries in the three books are just a side story. The real meat of them are the developing relationship between Harriet and Peter. I totally love reading how they both work out their issues and finally come together.

So, these
lucky little cat
This one is much adored by Peter Wimsey fans because

💠Harriet Vane's onstage for most all of it
💠We get major Harriet-Peter developments
💠Sayers' beloved dreaming spires of Oxford shine as the setting

But you'll have to wade through many, many old-college-girl conversations, not much Peter, and no Bunter.

S.C.R. = senior commons room
J.C.R. = junior commons room
W.P.B. = waste paper basket

If you think that's an *uproarious* joke, well then, you're good to go.
Ben Loory
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
very strange book. it's a 500 page mystery but the main character never does any detecting, she just kinda sits around waiting for the criminal to strike again... and again... and again... and again... and again... and then in the end her detective boyfriend shows up and says who did it and then the evildoer makes a speech. which is actually a really good speech! by far the best part of the book. and then there's some kissin' and it's over. not really sure why this one's so famous, though i can ...more
Christine PNW
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is only nominally a mystery. What it really is is Dorothy Sayers's manifesto, which holds that educating women is valuable, that women can be scholars, that work is work whether it is done by men or women, that intellectual work is valuable in it's own right, and that women should have agency to do the work that they feel they are best suited to do, whether that work involves marriage or children or not.

The mystery is engaging, but it's Oxford, and intellect and the sisterhood of acade
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harriet Vane has spent the last five years trying to outrun the specter of being tried for murder—and the attentions of the detective who proved her innocence. After attending Gaudy at Shrewsbury College in Oxford, Harriet is invited back to aid in investigating a series of vulgar letters and destructive acts against senior members of the college while also attempting to investigate her own desires.

1. I want to preface this with an acknowledgement that this book is an intellectual landscape mean
Abigail Bok
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Can I give this book more than 5 stars? What a tour de force.

In Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers follows not her usual hero, Lord Peter Wimsey, but instead his longtime love, Harriet Vane. Harriet is reluctantly persuaded to visit her old college at Oxford for its Gaudy Night celebrations. There she finds two vicious anonymous notes, one of them pushed into the sleeve of her academic gown! She returns to London, only to be called back a few months later by the administration; the college is being pl
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This, the grand summation, the last book in her famous semi-autobiographical trilogy (See my review of the first, Strong Poison). Sayers warns that though Oxford exists, Shrewsbury College is "entirely imaginary." I am very familiar with Oxford, living there on Woodstock Road some years, and on Banbury Road others; I used the Bodleian for my Giordano Bruno books, though never Radcliffe Camera. My wife and I walked the Ashmolean Museum, and Magdalen (pron "Maudlin") bridge, and many of the colleg ...more
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Slow, slow leak that proceeds to fill a lake of historic educational manners and structure, wit under 100 synonyms, emotional reservoirs with walls the size of Hoover Dam, and female gender conflicts and dichotomies of this age between the world wars amid the ironies of work/wifehood/intellect/purpose for women of high aptitudes especially before or since.

Yes, a run-on sentence. But accurate for this classic Sayers which presses all the most intrinsic cores of women's appeal, place, role, expect
Maybe you need to be 80 and British to appreciate this book - but I have set it aside due to uncontrollable boredom.
L.A. Starks
Jul 20, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mentioned among top mysteries by women and much deserving of that accolade.
Written in 1935 and set in Oxford, the underlying theme is the newness and lack of acceptance of women among the scholars guild. So, it is very worthwhile from that perspective.

However, the writing is of its time--somewhat strained--and the romance between Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane is also rather rococo.

Still, I recommend this to all who like the Lord Peter Wimsey series, who study women's history, who like universi
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Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a renowned British author, translator, student of classical and modern languages, and Christian humanist.

Dorothy L. Sayers is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. However, Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante's Divina Co

Other books in the series

Lord Peter Wimsey (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #1)
  • Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey, #2)
  • Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey, #3)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Lord Peter Wimsey, #4)
  • Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey, #5)
  • The Five Red Herrings (Lord Peter Wimsey, #6)
  • Have His Carcase (Lord Peter Wimsey, #7)
  • Murder Must Advertise  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #8)
  • The Nine Tailors (Lord Peter Wimsey, #9)
  • Busman's Honeymoon (Lord Peter Wimsey, #11)

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